Automakers Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën have welcomed the EUR3bn loan from the French government, the pair said in statements late on Monday.

PSA said the money would be used to support the group’s programme to develop cleaner, more fuel efficient and more affordable vehicles and promised not close any of its French plants.

Over the next two years, one or more new models will be launched at each of its five assembly units in France and “in the current circumstances, the group will not implement any compulsory redundancy plans in France”.

PSA said it was also speeding up payments to suppliers in line with France’s Economic Modernisation Act, raising its contribution to the Automobile Industry Investment Fund from EUR100m to EUR200m, implementing the code of good practice and competitiveness developed jointly by the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA) and the Automobile Industry Suppliers’ Liaison Committee (CLIFA), and negotiating a special agreement with Groupement de la Plasturgie, the body representing suppliers of plastic components, that takes into account the specific characteristics of this industry.

“The group will give priority to reinvesting its earnings in order to strengthen its capital base and maintain its pace of growth through increased capital expenditure,” PSA said.

It would also “examine with the government and employee representatives, the best way of improving the underlying competitiveness of France’s auto industry in order to improve its position within the European industry”.

Renault said the loan would help it “to withstand the crisis and, notably, finance its strategic projects in France, particularly the development of vehicles with zero or very low CO2 emissions”.

President Carlos Ghosn said: “We are very pleased with the loan granted to us by the French government. In light of the exceptional crisis impacting our entire industry, access to credit was indispensable for supporting our activity and that of the automotive industry.

“It will also enable us to pursue our developments and investments in sustainable mobility”.

The French government has also increased the authorisation of the SFEF loan to Renault financing unit RCI from EUR500m to EUR1bn, “enabling RCI to maintain a competitive financing offer for its customers”.

Renault said it was renewing the commitment made by Ghosn in September 2008 to not close a vehicle assembly plant in France in the coming years.

“Industrial activity in the country will be buoyed by the launch of five new models and a brand-new engine between now and end 2012. A full-electric vehicle will also be developed in France once the necessary profitability conditions are in place,” it said.

It made similar comments as PSA about increasing the French industry’s competitiveness.

“In the shorter term, Renault will do everything it can to maintain jobs and skills, at production sites as well as research, engineering and test centres.

“It will not implement restructuring programs at its automotive plants in France in 2009. Renault will continue to work with the government and employee and management representatives so that, throughout the crisis period, periods of partial activity are organised respecting the conditions of all parties.”

It also announced similar changes to supplier relationships as PSA.